Surfing (Metaphorically)

Woman surfing doing a jump

I have long wanted to learn to surf, although I’m also terrified of it. (There are a lot of things like that in my life.) Please take this post as metaphor-from-a-distance, because watching other people surf has still given me some insight into how my life flows.

First thing, before you can do awesome jumpy tricks like Alana Blanchard up there, you have to choose to go out to surf. If you want to surf, you must first place yourself in the water. I suppose you should probably also obtain a surf board. OK. So. 1) Decide to surf. 2) Obtain surf board. 3) Find a place to surf. Let’s skip this bit, I wanted to get to a different part of the metaphor, and now I’m going down the, “Find somebody who knows how to surf. Oh, wait! How do you pick a surfboard?” rabbithole, and I have a point, I swear I do.

Back up. Let us presume that we are already committed to surfing, and know what the hell we’re doing. Ish. Life: you’re in it. You’ve been in it long enough to have a sense of what’s going on.

Picture of people waiting for the wave with one person in the middle of catching the wave.
See all those bobbers? Still surfing.

Phew. Now, the point.

Surfing has a few stages. There’s the exciting bit (5, below), but there’s a whole lot of

  1. swimming upstream, followed by
  2. bobbing about waiting for a good wave, followed by
  3. some frantic paddling to try and catch the wave, followed by either
  4. missing the wave and returning to bobbing or
  5. catching the wave and riding it to varying degrees of success.
    Which may be followed by either
  6. Arriving on the shore and choosing to return to swimming against the waves or
  7. WIPEOUT!!!

And then, of course, if you’re doing it right, there is the bonfire on the beach exchanging stories with friends part.

Now, it has been my observation that we’ve got this image in our minds of life as and endless process of 2, with very occasional moments of 3. I, myself, have had a life that included a lot of 1) and 2), occasional 3) some 4)s and a couple of 5)s. But whenever I find myself back in a stage 1 or stage 2, I feel like there is something wrong.

I think we need a better story, one with more bobbing about chatting with friends, and one that accepts that WIPEOUT is a possible outcome after catching the wave, even after years of practice.

I also think we need to plan lots and lots of bonfires on the beach.

Let us recap: Swim, Bob, Surf, Rest. Repeat until satisfied. Party on beach.

Who’s with me?

P.S. Also, in my next life, I want to be somebody who does awesome jumpy tricks.